Conference play opened across the 3A football division last week and as we look to round two, there are just four games on the schedule pitting week one winners against each other. Of that group, the game with most attention is found in the Central between #2 Discovery Canyon and #5 Thomas Jefferson. The league is loaded overall as defending state champion and #4 Palmer Ridge is also a member.
Defenses have not had much luck slowing down the Discovery Canyon offense. Coach Shawn Mitchell’s club put up 63 points in a league opening rout of Littleton and has scored at least 52 points in each of their last three games. Before Littleton, they had beaten Holy Family and Pueblo East. Plus, they added 42 in a wild overtime win over Pueblo South in week four.
Stats from the Littleton game have not been posted but even without that game, the totals are very impressive. Marshal Pike is the leading rusher and picked up 142 yards against Pueblo South, a career best 255 vs Holy Family and 176 against Pueblo East. The Thunder overall has totaled at least 308 yards on the ground in every game including 415 and six touchdowns against Holy Family and 449 with seven scores in the win over Pueblo East.
The Thomas Jefferson defense though could be a nice test. They limited Lewis Palmer to just 46 yards on 25 attempts in beating the Rangers 38-22 last week. The game was not as close as that score indicates the Spartans jumped to a 22-0 halftime edge.
Daveon Hunter averaged nine yards per carry in the win; finishing with 234 yards and three touchdowns. Ethan Rollins added 62 yards on 13 attempts. The offense though committed three turnovers and one interception was returned for a touchdown. If the Spartans are to get by Discovery Canyon this week and then Palmer Ridge next week, the turnover number needs to be lower.
Palmer Ridge had their way with Lutheran last week and should have the same type of game with Littleton this week. Lutheran and Lewis Palmer also square off with one team claiming their first conference victory.
Discovery Canyon opens the game fifth in RPI with Thomas Jefferson a step back in sixth. Palmer Ridge was outside the top 30 two weeks ago but has since climbed to 18th. Their strength of schedule is ranked 27th in the division but will improve with their upcoming games with T-J and Discovery Canyon.
#7 Holy Family and Frederick both sit at 5-1 overall after scoring wins to open the North Metro schedule last week. They collide on Friday with the winner staying in contention for a league championship. The rivals are separated by ten spots in the RPI this week with Holy Family 4th and Frederick 14th. Much of that is due to schedules. Holy Family has the 9th most difficult schedule according to RPI and Frederick 30th. The Warriors have a loss to Erie and their wins are against teams with a combined record of 3-21. A win over Holy Family this week changes that and should jump the Warriors up the RPI ladder quite a bit.
Because of injury, Kyle Helbig has stepped into the quarterback role and taken most of the snaps over the past three games. He’s completed 32 of 58 attempts for 558 yards and four TD’s. Included in that run was 270 yards in a quality win over 4A Skyline.
Ben Nappe is now the teams’ leading receiver with 23 catches including seven over the past three. Devin Doroff has caught seven passes in the last two games for 100 yards and a TD. Braeden Peters has seven of his 11 catches on the season in the last three games.
Trying to slow down Holy Family is a Frederick defense that has posted 14 sacks and intercepted eight passes so they have big play ability. Dylan Sindelar and Chase Jackson have three sacks apiece and Dante Ciaravola has two interceptions and six others have one.
Offensively, the Warriors feature five players with at least 200 yards rushing. The leader is Brandon Hornby with 475 yards and nine touchdowns. Jake Green provides a nice compliment in the passing game with 474 yards and six touchdowns; three apiece to Ciaravola and Sindelar.
Mead also posted a week one in conference play and they head to Northfield where an expected win will keep the Mavericks tied with the Holy Family-Frederick winner atop the standings. The Mavericks are 17th in RPI and squarely on the so-called playoff bubble.
Denver North goes to Skyview in the third league game. That winner evens their league mark to 1-1.
Longtime rivals Palisade and Glenwood Springs meet up Thursday in a battle of 1-0 teams in the Western Slope. The Bulldogs are 5-1 overall and ranked 3rd in Class 3A while the Demons are 2-4 on the season. Their record is a bit misleading as the schedule has been difficult and filled with close losses. They’ve lost to Holy Family by 15 points, Harrison by 8, Rifle by 13 and to Roosevelt by six in overtime. The Demons very easily could be 4-2.
The game will be won in the trenches as both teams want to establish the run. Palisade needs just 29 yards to reach 2000 for the season and much of their damage originates from the QB slot with Cam Tucker. He picked up 116 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 49-20 win over Steamboat Springs. Tucker added a fifth touchdown through the air as the Bulldogs generated 539 yards of offense.
Glenwood Springs averages 233 yards a game on the ground. The Demons have a nice combination of Gavin Olson (592 yards) and Luke Gair (332) who have combined for 10 touchdowns. Glenwood drilled Eagle Valley 41-0 last week to snap a two-game skid. The previous win came against Conifer.
Battle Mountain topped Summit in their league opener and must avoid looking past the rest of the league to their showdown with Palisade on October 26th. They visit Steamboat Springs this week. Eagle Valley also goes to Summit.
Sitting number one in RPI this week, Palisade is a virtual lock to host a first round playoff game. Battle Mountain is 11th in RPI and very much alive for a rare post-season invitation. Glenwood Springs is 20th and still in contention. Their chances are boosted with a win over Palisade.
The fourth battle of week one winners takes place in the Southern but #6 Harrison is heavily favored to get by Canon City. The Tigers were 0-5 in non-conference play but finally put a mark in the win column by blanking Sand Creek 27-0 last week. Harrison meantime rolled Falcon 42-0. The Panthers are expected to win the conference title as no other member has more than two wins on the season.
The Panthers scored 21 points in both the second and third quarters last week. Orlando Westbrook-Sanchez had just 22 yards rushing but scored three times. He also threw for 187 yards. Aumiere Shedrick led the team with 107 yards on the ground.
Before last week’s win, Canon City had been outscored by 110 points on the season. They must run the football to have a chance against Harrison. Conor McCain ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns last week and Raymond Cammel added 75. The duo has combined for 908 yards overall.
Harrison is 3rd in RPI but as mentioned, their league schedule could prevent them from moving higher. Falcon is 29th this week but the Falcons are the next highest ranked team so this could be a one-bid league unless Harrison is upset.
Other conference games on tap this week sees Mitchell at Falcon and Sierra at Sand Creek.
Green Mountain, Kennedy and Evergreen posted opening wins in the Mount Metro division. None of the three meet this so if all three are winners again, the race for the title will be down to those three teams. Green Mountain entertains George Washington; Conifer heads to Kennedy and Evergreen is at Lincoln. The most important game could be the Green Mountain-George Washington battle as the Rams are 8th in RPI and the Patriots 12th. Evergreen is 13th with remaining league teams all outside the top 25.
#1 Erie and #10 Fort Morgan moved to 1-0 in the North Valley with opening league wins last week. Erie rolled Northridge 48-0 and Fort Morgan held off Roosevelt in Johnstown 27-21. They were joined in the winners’ circle by Thompson Valley who snapped a 20-game losing streak with their win over Niwot.
Expanding that streak to two straight wins could be difficult as the Eagles tangle with a Roosevelt squad that is much better than their 1-5 record. Fort Morgan is home to winless Northridge and Erie meets an improved Niwot team that is 3-3 despite last week’s loss to Thompson Valley.
The South-Central race opened with #8 Pueblo East, #9 Durango and Pueblo County all posting wins. They all have a chance to reach 2-0 this week. East is at Pueblo Centennial, Durango makes the trek to Pueblo Central and County plays at Pueblo South. The league is deep as all six teams are in the top 24 of RPI including Durango (2nd) and Pueblo East (9th) in the top ten.